Early in the morning of May 3, 2014, Emile Wickham and three of his friends went to downtown Toronto on Wickham's birthday. The group decided to celebrate in the Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, a staple in the area for nearly two decades, partly because they saw other people eating there at that hour.
The group sat and ordered food, but a waiter told them they would have to pay in advance before they could be served. It was the restaurant's policy, he said.
According to court documents, Wickham said the request "does not sit well" with him, even after he and his friends – the only black guests in Hong Shing at the time – paid in advance. Wickham started going to other tables in the restaurant and asked if they'd been asked to pay for their meals.
Nobody had the same experience.
"That's really messed up," a dinner told Wickham after he explained why he asked.
"When they learned that no other guests were asked to pay their meals, they asked the waiter to explain why they had to pay and no one else expected to do that," court documents said.
It was then the waiter who was confirmed that Wickham's group had been the only one in the restaurant who was asked to prepay for their meals, according to court documents.
"Instead of offering any explanation for the advance payment, he simply asked them if they wanted their money back," it said in court documents. "The complainant said it was obvious that the waiter wanted to end the conversation as quickly as possible and was very defensive."
The following year, Wickham filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Court, a government that claims discrimination and harassment claims that he and his friends were racially profiled by the Hong Shing restaurant staff
In his testimony Wickham said the incident had "a profound effect" on him. The native of Trinidad and Tobago had emigrated to Canada more than a decade earlier. At the time of the incident, Wickham was a student at nearby York University. That night, his three guest partners Chevy Eugene and Paul Bailey, both graduate students at York University, and a friend from Ottawa, who was identified in court records only as "Aurila," [Wickham] testified that he was not used because of his race to be treated as a second-class citizen and was not used to the fact that he was attributed to a negative behavior because of his skin color, "it said in the court documents. "The complainant said the encounter was particularly painful as the trip was special as he does not have many friends in Toronto and because it was his birthday."
A lawyer for the restaurant originally submitted a statement that Hong Shing employees had a policy years ago where waiters demanded advance payment from customers who were not "regulars."
"Because of its location, the restaurant attracts a bit of a passing crowd, and unfortunately, in the past, it was very common for customers to eat" Dine and Dash "- that is, to eat their meals and leave the restaurant without paying." The lawyer said according to court records. "There was never any intention to discriminate against the plaintiff, all customers who are not [sic] regulars are treated in the same way."
But the court found no evidence that there was ever such a policy in Hong Shing gave or, if there were any, this Wickham was clearly expressed and his group. In addition, the tribunal stated that there was no evidence that the other customers in the restaurant were "regulars" that night. But a member of Wickham's group, Paul Bailey, testified that he had eaten at Hong Shing about five to seven times a year since then, he was 19, for a total of 15 to 20 visits.
Nearly four years after the incident, the Human Rights Court ruled this month that the restaurant discriminated against the group in 2014 and ordered Hong Shing to pay Wickham $ 10,000 in damages
"In fact, despite all the evidence, the appellant was considered a potential victim Thief, "wrote Esi Codjoe, deputy chairman of the tribunal, in her verdict. "His mere presence as a black man in a restaurant was considered sufficient proof of his alleged bias toward criminal behavior, and racial profiling is essentially a form of shorthand that allows the perpetrator of the behavior to accept certain facts and ignore others." [WickhamtestifiedthatheandhisfriendshadlefttherestaurantthatnightandwerehopelessfrustratedandhurtAccordingtocourtrecordsWickhamis"visiblyblackandAfro-Caribbean"andalsohasaChinesegrandfatherAlthoughhesaidhewasnotusedtoanti-blackracismwhenhewaslivinginTrinidadhewasawareofitinCanadabuthethought"onaplane"thataYorkUniversitysweatshirtlikethisoneNightwastomakehimimmuneSuchincidentsindicatethatcourtrecordstestified
"He felt black injured right now," the court papers said. "He has realized that no matter how well-dressed or educated or spoken you are, you are still seen as a 'n'.
Wickham told the Globe and Mail, who first reported the story that the incident stopped him when it came to Toronto's image.
"I feel many Canadians feel like [they aren’t racist] because they do not say the N-word or they have that black colleague or they like to eat Jamaican food and know about roti and doubles," Wickham told the newspaper.
Hong Shing will also be invited to show a poster that says the establishment "respects and follows the letter and spirit of the Ontario Human Rights Code."
One person who answered the phone in the restaurant on Monday said their owner, Colin Li, was not there. In February, the Toronto star portrayed Li Li, the son of Hong Shing's original owners, and his attempts to revise his parent's restaurant, which opened in 1997. It is unclear whether Li was in Hong Shing or aware of the 2014 incident. The Globe and Mail reported that since January, Li has been listed as sole director of the restaurant in business license lists.
Li said on Monday in a statement that she "deeply worried about the 'That took place when the restaurant was under different management.' The tribunal's result was challenged, he added.  "At this point, we can not comment further, apart from the emphasis that the current owner and employees are dedicated to being a dedicated, inclusive and responsible member of the community," Li said. "We hope the problem will be one can be solved in a respectful way for all concerned. We can continue to focus on bringing people together for good food. "
In the Toronto Star profile, Li said he had made progress in trying to attract a millennial customer base and started a basketball recreational team in Megacity Basketball Sponsoring the Toronto League and posting photos of the team's players and Hong Shing's food on the restaurant's Instagram account, he has heavily promoted the restaurant on social media by saying he's trying to stop the perception of Chinese food to transform Hong Shing into a "culture."
"Worked hard over the years to get Hong Shing where it wants to be! "Li posted on Facebook in September 2015, after an event where food bloggers were invited to the restaurant." Over 18 years in the business, we can still revive ourselves and adapt to current trends. But that was definitely not achieved overnight. Hard work and dedication to the industry brought us to where we are today, because that's only the beginning!
A handful of people defended Hong Shing on Twitter and in comments to the restaurant's Facebook and Instagram accounts, noting the change of management
t has stopped the game. In social media, several people vowed to boycott Hong Shing. Over the weekend, some began to rely on one-star reviews for the restaurant on Yelp, citing the tribunal's decision.
"This is Canada 2018," wrote a reviewer. "It is unacceptable to be racist."
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